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The Damsel wishes she could say she created this severely burned-on mess so she could post about it. In other words, on purpose. Sadly, that is not the case.

The Damsel’s crockpot insert is now completely, utterly, physically and emotionally encrusted with a deep layer of concrete food.

How can a person clean something like this without resorting to nasty oven cleaner or a jackhammer? How did Grandma do it in the old days?

The Damsel will show you, dear students, but you must be patient. This is not a process that allows immediate reuse of the pan. The upside is:  there shall be NO SCRUBBING.

Scrape any loose food out. In the Damsel’s case, this took only a few seconds because she did such a thorough job of burning this pan. Cover with hot water and add about a cup of vinegar. Set over low heat for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Pour out the sludge. The Damsel was happy to see most all the burned-on food slide right out, with the exception of a few stubborn places. She restrained herself from chiseling at these spots, because this is a no-scrubbing experiment.

Dump some baking soda in the pan and add just enough water to make a thick paste. Spread on the stubborn spots with a generous hand. Put the lid on and try not to think about this pan for a “while.” A few hours. Maybe overnight again.

Next, the Damsel put a few cups of water in the pan and poured in another cupful or so of vinegar. Mostly because she knew it would fizz with the baking powder and that would be fun. Pretty much all the glued on food floated free. Whee! Then she washed it in her normal way with dishwashing liquid because she needed closure.

Two days later the pan is usable again. The Damsel supposes chiseling could have sped up the process, but she really wanted to see if it could be done sans elbow grease. Time consuming, perhaps, but easy…and old-schoolish, with no yucky chemicals.

The same method can be used with non-crockpot pans…just use your stovetop for the first step, on the lowest of the low settings. The Damsel has also heard of people repeating the steps if necessary.

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  • how sad that i kinda feel like this is a letter addressed to me. not that i've ever done this.

  • Lady Ozma

    Damsel, you did it again! Pretty much EVERY time I cook in the crockpot, this happens. And if it doesn't? That's when the crockpot dies. I'm pretty sure that crockpots fear me and consider me Public Enemy Number 1. I use them like MAYBE three times a year. In a high use year. And I'm on my fifth in 16 years. I should use them more, but when they spend three weeks soaking the concrete off… well…

    Next time… I'm trying this! (If I don't kill my pot)

  • Gee, that top picture looks a lot like the crockpot I have sitting in my sink right now! Luckily I have a gallon of vinegar sitting nearby that I used to get pizza stains out of the carpet. (Why is it that when one of the kids drops food in the kitchen doorway it always falls on the half of the floor that is carpeted – not on the easy-clean tile?)

  • Genius! And perfect timing as I'm making stew tomorrow…

  • I can't tell you how pleased and happy that nice white picture at the end made me feel. I think there may be something wrong with me, because now I want to burn a nice pretty white dish.

  • Damsel, OH WOW! Where were you when I ruined a pan last year??? Now, I have a couple of pans at home that I am going to “experiment” on too. Thank you so much for this hint!!!

  • Oh man! I can’t believe I didn’t read this earlier. I just spent 20 min with an SOS pad and elbow grease to get my seriously scorched stainless steel pan clean. It worked, but I would have much preferred to use this method. Next time….since I’m pretty positive there WILL be a next time. :0(

  • I am doing this this week. My crockpot thanks you.

  • I love that they invented crock pot liners because this happens to me no matter what I make, whether I burn it or not. But I often forget them, or refuse to buy more because they are expensive, so this will be VERY handy to know as an alternative. I have a major aversion to the smell of vinegar which makes it tough for me to clean much the old-fashioned way. (Vinegar and newspapers for windows works well, but makes me ill, so I just can’t do it and have streaky, crappy eco-friendly cleaner instead.)

  • Great advice…unfortunately, I will be able to put this to good use!

  • This is great! So glad a joined the StumbleUpon clan on BlogFrog!

  • Great tip! Love to see the process photos. Will definitely be taking your advice!

  • Have to share this w/my hubs. I do the cooking and he handles clean up. Sometimes when MY part doesn’t go according to plan, he is left with one heck of a mess : )

  • I have also heard that filling it with water and putting an old dryer sheet in it, then letting it sit overnight works. I’ve not tried it yet, though!

  • Irene

    Just put a dryer sheet into the crock pot, fill it high enough to cover the oook and soak overnight, No scrubbing.

    • the_damsel

      Thanks, Irene!

  • Kathleen Lupole

    Thank you for this information! I have just bought a new crockpot and hadn’t come upon this problem yet. I use baking soda and vinegar for much of my cleaning already so this is perfect for me.  

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comment! Come back again soon.

  • I am for sure going to try this.  Thanks.  I am also an author, Revenge of the Dorkoids, Oct, 2010.  Let me know if you want to help promote each other-network.  Friend me on Facebook.